Trump’s Business Credit Score Is 19 Out of a Possible 100

Trump-business

Debate season has brought about quite a bit of talk about how Donald Trump runs his businesses and how the Clinton Foundation gets its donor dollars. Nav, a business score education organization, decided to run business credit scores for both The Trump Organization and the Clinton Foundation (you can view the full Nav report details here). The results might surprise you.

What’s a Business Credit Score?

Similar to your personal credit scores, business credit scores and reports suggest a way to determine the credibility of a company by looking into how it has handled debts and obligations in the past.

“Suppliers, vendors and even business partners can look up your business’s credit score, anytime they want, without notifying you and without your permission,” Gerri Detweiler, head of Market Education for Nav, said.

Businesses leave an information trail when using credit, which is collected by business credit reporting agencies. A business credit score could be determined by the use of business credit cards, repaying equipment leases or business loan, or working with creditors that report business activity to credit reporting agencies, Detweiler said.

According to the Nav report, many types of businesses rely on business credit scores similar to the way people rely on personal credit scores — these scores can determine interest rates and loan approvals. Lenders, vendors and suppliers may look up a business’ credit scores to make financing or trade credit decisions. They may also use the scores when determining whether to extend terms to a business, such as letting it pay for goods or services in 30 days (net-30) or 60 days (net-60). The U.S. government can also review business credit when a company applies for a large contract. Even potential business partners may look into a company’s reports before deciding to do business with it.

Business scores often take a harder hit because of late payments than personal scores. Delinquencies or slow payments, for example, might be reported if they’re only a day late for a business, compared to the 30-day grace period typically offered with personal credit, according to Nav.

And, just like with personal scores (which you can view two of on Credit.com for free, updated every 14 days), there can be reporting mistakes that can ding your business credit score, Detweiler said.

The Trump Organization’s Business Credit Score

According to Nav, The Trump Organization, Inc.’s business credit score is a 19 out of 100 as of Sept. 23, 2016, which puts it below the national average score by more than 30 points. The Nav report said the score indicates the Trump Organization “is very likely to default on its credit payments” and that “this will make it difficult to get financing.” It puts Trump’s Organization in a “medium-to-high risk” category.

What Hurt the Trump Score

“Derogatory information, including a tax lien, judgement and collection accounts are affecting the Trump Organization’s credit scores,” Detweiler said. Derogatory information can include things like bankruptcies, but Trump’s bankruptcies did not show up on the report — most likely because they were old or for other businesses he is associated with, Detweiler said.

“Payment status is the most important factor when it comes to business credit scores, accounting for approximately 50% or more of the score,” Detweiler said. The Trump Organization’s payment history shows it pays an average of 26 days beyond terms (DBT), compared to the national average of 12 DBT.

Up for Debate

Interestingly, the report also shows a tax lien, a judgement and three collection accounts, all of which ding the Trump Organization’s score, but the status of these is unclear.

The first, from the Environmental Control Board, said “paid in full, amount paid $0” and is dated 2015. Another is an account in collections reported by Altus Global Trade, which shows up twice: One appears to be closed and the other seems to be uncollected, according to the report. There’s no start date. The amount paid is listed as $0.

“This could be a duplicate, it could be resolved, it could be a mistake,” Detweiler said. “Just like personal credit, this is an illustration of why, as a business owner, you want to check your business credit report, and if it isn’t accurate, then you need to dispute it.” So, in effect, Trump or someone from his organization should dispute these items on his business credit report if they believe they are inaccurate. “If these items bringing down the credit score are mistakes, they could be fixed,” Detweiler said.

The other items are a state tax lien for $526, which shows as released and presumably was paid. (Note: Tax liens can stay on your credit report for a given number of years, even after they’re paid.) There was also a judgement regarding ABC Imaging of Washington, D.C., for $3,294 from December 2013.

Two separate things that worked in the Trump Organization’s favor are its business credit trail, which extends for more than 35 years, and that the bankruptcies weren’t on the organization’s report.

The Clinton Foundation Score

According to Nav, the Clinton Foundation’s business credit score is a 42 out of 100 as of Sept. 23, 2016, which puts it below the national average score by about seven points. The Nav report said the score indicates the Foundation is “somewhat likely to default on its credit payments” and that “this could make it difficult to get financing and the terms may be unfavorable.” It puts the Clinton Foundation into a “medium-risk” category.

What Hurt the Clinton Score

What works against the Clinton Foundation is that it is a relatively new organization and it is a foundation — its credit history only dates to 2013 and it has a relatively “thin file,” Detweiler said. Because it is a foundation, it may not use a lot of credit, so there may not be as many active trade lines as a regular business, she said. That’s because foundations are often funded through donor dollars. “According to the reports, the foundation has no derogatory information, low credit utilization, a mix of different accounts and a projected payment trend of zero days beyond terms,” Detweiler said.

If You’re Establishing a Business

Establishing good credit in business is similar to establishing good credit habits in your personal life.

“A good course of action to establish good business credit scores would be to take care of any delinquent accounts that are being reported, and — most importantly — make on-time or early payments in the future,” Detweiler said.

Even if you’re not running for president, it’s important to keep a close eye on your business’s credit reports to make sure they don’t contain errors and, if you do find any, you repair the problem.

Image: scarletsails

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5 Ways Hackers Could Influence the Election

hackers-can-influence-election

When Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump said he hoped the Russian government had found Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails, he wasn’t just taking a swipe at his opponent. He highlighted a very real and present danger to our democracy.

While social media users were atwitter about whether or not The Donald had committed treason—for the record, he didn’t—I don’t know if his quasi-seditious braggadocio reveals anything about his loyalty to the country he hopes to represent at home and abroad. Personally, it made me wonder about his fitness to lead a nation daily engaged in cyber military operations that almost certainly make the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program look like Day One.

And far more importantly, it made me question whether Trump understands just how serious the threat of hacking is — and that such a lack of understanding could cost him the election.

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher

We now have fresh evidence that suggests Russia (its leader, an apparent fan of the Republican nominee) hacked the DNC, and that another incursion into the computer systems used by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign (as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) discovered days later also appeared to be the work of a Russian government agency, according to The New York Times.

If the idea of a foreign country influencing the outcome of the 2016 race is both slightly terrifying and gets your patriotic juices flowing, consider that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has also suggested he intends to harm Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, also according to the Times.

The problem of hacking with regard to this election, however, is far from contained to espionage for advantage and the caprices of self-proclaimed moral crusaders.

Here are five other ways hacking could influence the election. 

1. Hacker Fraud

Currently 25 states accommodate voters who qualify to cast a ballot through either a website or via email. And then there’s online voter registration. Each of these conveniences carries with it the potential for subversion and exploitation.

It’s also worth noting that our most sacred right in this nation does not enjoy protection from Homeland Security. Each state runs its own voting, and cyber security competence is something that varies greatly from state to state.

2. Rigged Voting Machines

Not all states “airgap” their voting machines. Airgapping means the machines are never connected to the Internet, and thus are much harder to compromise.

While there isn’t anything precluding a hacker from attempting to rig a machine one way or another, an article on the left-leaning CounterPunch site, argued that the states where machines are most vulnerable to compromise lean anti-Clinton.

3. Registration Information

When Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center earlier this year lost access to crucial files to hackers, they had to pay a ransom of $17,000. What happens if a similar attack on a state’s voter information is successful? Here too, Homeland Security has no oversight, and state cyber security protocols vary widely.

4. Campaign Data

As Julian Assange has clearly demonstrated, the incredibly rich, granular and varied personal information that political campaigns collect to better target potential voters is not sufficiently protected from outside malefactors.

5. Voter Suppression

One thing that hackers do particularly well is spam, and doubtless there are numerous email lists that target particular demographics in crucial voting districts. All that needs to happen here is a little misinformation: maybe the spam says your polling station is closed, or due to a terrorist threat there may be delays. It doesn’t take much to discourage potential voters.

Is This a Job for Homeland Security?

With both candidates receiving daily intelligence briefings, it seems like a good time to wonder out loud about the security of that information, since strategies and messaging based on it will almost certainly be emailed among campaign staff and stored on campaign servers.

While there is wisdom in the states controlling their own voting systems that finds its origins in our Constitution, there is also a new threat out there. And while I’m not sure it makes sense to put voting under the control of a federal entity, it might benefit from greater oversight.

As Stewart Baker, a former top guy at Homeland Security and the National Security Administration said recently regarding the cyber threat in this election: “It’s hanging chads weaponized.”

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: Pamela Moore

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The National Security Nightmare the Candidates Aren’t Discussing

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Whether you love it, or it makes you want to move south of the border, Donald Trump’s Great Wall of Mexico is an idea whose time has come.

That said, the Republican presidential candidate has a few things wrong.

First, The Donald’s wall is misnamed. It should be called the Great Cyber Wall of America or the American Cyberdome or, at any rate, something denoting a digital information and communication protection system.

The second thing Trump has wrong is functionality. The wall America needs should not be effective at keeping immigrants from entering our great nation. It needs to protect us from the vast array of hostile hackers who wish to do us harm from both within and beyond our sovereign borders — be they state-sponsored, terrorist, in pursuit of some cause, or simply precocious teenagers. It needs to protect every inch of coastline and border we have in three dimensions. And it needs to do this reliably.

Why a Cyber Wall Matters

In 2007, Estonia, the “most wired nation in Europe” experienced something unprecedented: denial-of-service attacks that crippled the country. Wave after wave of attacks targeted government websites, Estonian newspapers, universities and banks. It wreaked havoc. The government took the extraordinary action of blocking international web traffic — effectively isolating Estonia from the rest of the world during a portion of the attacks. Suddenly, the assault stopped as quickly as it started, but while it lasted, there were riots in the streets.

Those denial-of-service attacks were in retaliation for the Estonian government’s decision to remove a Soviet-era war monument. Increasingly, ideology is driving more fervent fights and drastic measures in the world.

Around Christmas in 2015, parts of the Ukraine started experiencing blackouts. Large swaths of the population lost electric power, all of them in areas associated with the opposition to the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and pro-Russia separatists. The blackouts were caused by hackers. To date, nothing has been proven about who was sponsoring them. The only fact in evidence is that a Trojan called BlackEnergy was used, and the initial penetration into the power companies was achieved through social engineering (also known as trickery and/or deceit in combination with all-too-fallible humanity). In this case, the social engineering took the form of spearphishing — an employee was sent an email that appeared legitimate, they clicked an attachment, and, quite literally, all hell broke loose.

Because many cyber attacks have a social engineering aspect, there is a tendency in the data security community to assume that there is no cure-all for the cyber insecurity that ails us worldwide. But regardless it is a problem in dire search of a solution.

Just last week, National Security Administration Director Michael Rogers stated our need for better protections when he said it was a question of “when, not if” state-sponsored hackers decide to take out parts or the entirety of our power grid, our communications and our emergency response systems. Doubtless, banks and other financial organizations are tasty targets as well.

Meanwhile on the Campaign Trail

This election season we haven’t heard a whole lot about cyber security (or the lack thereof), which boggles the mind. After all, the barbarians are no longer knocking at the gate. They are crawling through millions of investigative reports at the Office of Personnel Management, harvesting tens of millions of Social Security numbers in the breached files of our health insurers, burrowing into countless bank accounts and medical files, rifling through our travel plans, diverting billions of tax refund dollars from the IRS and (doubtless) exploring various avenues into our power grid.

Yet there has been barely a peep on the campaign trail, save former Sen. Jim Webb — who, as you will no doubt remember, was quickly dispatched to the scrapheap of Presidential election history.

Instead, we are witness to a heated debate about the size of a candidate’s hands, and get “Big Donnie” and “Little Marco” sniping at each other like eighth graders who have a crush on the same person while Hillary tries to sound more like Bernie without alienating Wall Street. Meanwhile, Bernie keeps delivering the same stump speech despite a horde of super delegates who plan to make Hillary the Democratic nominee regardless his performance in the primaries.

I don’t just blame the candidates. The media has had a hand in this. Les Moonves summed up part of the problem recently when he said that this crazy election “may not be good for America, but it’s good for CBS.”

In an era of reality show politics, why would anyone with any skin in the game want to risk losing the eyes and ears of Americans because they talk about something substantive like cyber security? Unfortunately, just as convenience often trumps security in this day and age, the failure to intelligently discuss and debate various approaches to keeping our nation cyber safe is a major opportunity loss for the U.S.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

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